Bermuda's Testing Chief Quits as COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket

HAMILTON, Bermuda — Bermuda’s active coronavirus (COVID-19) cases have soared beyond 1,100 as a scientist in charge of the island’s fight against the virus announced she is to leave the job at the end of the month after accusing the government of ignoring her advice.

CweldonDr. Carika Weldon (Photo courtesy of Bermuda GIS)“I really appreciate the experience and opportunities I have gained while working in this role.” Dr Carika Weldon said, confirming she had informed the cabinet of her decision.

Her resignation comes in the wake of massive delays in the turnaround of test results this week.

Weldon told the Royal Gazette newspaper that her advice to the David Burt government had been ignored during the build-up to the latest outbreak.

Weldon said she had warned against children returning to school this week, which required 5,400 tests for COVID-19 to be turned around in a matter of days while her lab was short-staffed.

Weldon, the director of the Molecular Diagnostic and Research Laboratory (MDL), which was set up in April 2020 just after the pandemic reached the island, said the team was flooded with more than 3,500 test samples every day.

Weldon, 31, a researcher at the Oxford Genomics Centre in England, returned to the island to head the lab’s work and at the time Premier Burt welcomed the move as a triumph for a young black Bermudian scientist.

“Dr Weldon has done an incredible job, bringing immense passion and commitment to the vital operation that has been COVID testing in Bermuda.

“She transitions with the sincere thanks of the government and people of Bermuda for a job tremendously well done,” a government spokeswoman said:”

Weldon earlier said cutbacks in staffing as infection rates soared had left the MDL unable to keep up with the latest outbreak.

“It’s a people problem. We have now approval to hire people back that we were told to get rid of. But the administration side has not gone through.”

Bermuda, where the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire according to Health Minister Kim Wilson, currently has 1,111 active cases of COVID-19 after 255 new infections were confirmed on Thursday.

The number of people in hospital has doubled to four.

Health officials said 125 of the new cases came in from overseas. Most of the remaining 130 cases are under investigation.

There have been 56 recoveries since the last COVID-19 update on Tuesday.

In all, Bermuda has recorded a total of 7,191 cases with 110 people dying from the virus.